Typical of their past meetings, this contest was also close with the Canadians edging the Americans 3-2.
Both squads, undefeated in their pool play, competed in front of a full, bipartisan house at the Shayba Arena in the Coastal Cluster.
Right from the start, each team pushed the envelope of legitimate contact – battling for the puck, pounding the boards, and shoving each other under the scrutinizing eyes of the referees.
During the first period, USA gained an edge in shots on goal (11-8), with goalie Jessie Vetter facing more pressure than her counterpart Charline Labonte. Chants of USA and Ca-na-da overstepped each other, and several uvezelas, that are officially banned from venues by Sochi Olympics, blared.
The second stanza featured play mirroring that of the opener, as USA racked up more shots on goal than Canada (13-11). The deadlock was broken by the U.S. point leader, forward Hillary Knight who slapped in a score with just over two minutes remaining. Both Alex Carpenter and Anne Schleper were credited with the assists.
Canada opened the third period on fire. Seizing the advantage of a power play, at the 42:20 mark, forward Megan Agosta fired a pass from Haylen Wickenheiser right past Vetter at 42:21 to knot the score at 1-1.
Just over a minute later, after the penalty period had lapsed, the forward Wickenheiser drilled the puck at Vetter who quickly smothered it, up until it squirted out from her sprawled body and slid straight into the goal. USA Head Coach Katey Stone requested that the goal be reviewed since it was believed that the whistle had blown the play dead before the puck rolled into the net. But, after review of the replay by the judges, the goal stood.
With the score at 2-1, the frustrated Vetter was forced to regroup quickly, for Team Canada was stoking their mojo with more aggressive play.
At the 5:10 mark, the feisty Agosta stole the puck at the blue line and darted to the net. Facing this one-on-one, Vetter strived to fend off the attack, but the puck slipped through her legs.
USA defensewoman Josephine Pucci said about losing a 1-0 lead, “We could have done as better job transitioning.”
Team USA now had its back to the wall, down by two points. With just 1 minute remaining, Schleper flashed a shot past Labonte to narrow the deficit, 3-2. Brianna Decker and Jocelyne Lamoreux logged the assists.
Behind chants of USA, the American unit pulled Vetter with one minute to go. A half-minute later, Canada was charged with too many players on the ice.
USA tried to tap this power play advantage and knot the score by using its cheering fan base to its advantage, but ran short of time.
Team Captain Julie Chu said, “We know that we have to bounce back. We are excited about who we play next in the semifinals.”
The American ladies now have a three-day break in their schedule. They resume practice on Friday before the semifinal round starts on Sunday.
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